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Yurish out to become Pioneer

February 21, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

After Joey Yurish led Martinsburg to the 2001 West Virginia Class AAA football state title game - becoming The Herald-Mail Offensive Player of the Year in the process - Glenville State set their eyes on the quarterback.

A year later, the Pioneers got their man.

Yurish, who played for Mercersburg Academy last season, signed with Glenville last week.

"Last year, they really wanted me to come, but I had already committed to Mercersburg," Yurish said. "They told me to keep in touch ... and that's what I did. I took adavntage of what they offered."

Yurish put his name on the Pioneers' most wanted list by guiding the Bulldogs to Wheeling, W.Va., and a state championship appearance two seasons ago, completing 76 of 135 attempts for 1,384 yards and 17 touchdowns during the reglar season.

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"Dave Walker's an awesome coach, and anybody who goes through his system is going to be a winner," Yurish said of the Bulldogs' coach. "You can see that with Nathan (Sowers) and Brandon (Barrett)."

Sowers - who took Yurish's old spot under center - and Barrett helped lead Martinsburg to a 12-1 record and a state semifinals berth last year.

Yurish decided to play at Mercersburg, hoping to his individual skills. He completed 128 of 297 attempts for 1,813 yards and 14 touchdowns, leading a Blue Storm squad that finished 0-9 against better competition than Yurish had previously faced.

"The (Mid-Atlantic Prep League) is very tough," Yurish said. "They have Division I-caliber players and it's so hard to compete with teams like that when you don't have the same talent."

Nonetheless, both Yurish and Mercersburg coach Andy Schroer say the quarterback's skills improved.

"My release is quicker. My footwork is better. I feel I'm a better player," Yurish said. "I think it's matured me a lot, and gotten me ready for college ball."

"He threw the ball a lot, and teams knew we would throw the ball," Schroer said. "One area he improved is his scrambling ability and pocket awareness."

Glenville has traditionally been a top-tier team in the eight-school West Virginia Conference, which includes Shepherd College. The Pioneers, under coach Paul Shaffner, emphasize the passing game - a key reason Yurish signed with them.

"They kind of bring the same package Mercersburg does," Yurish said. "I'm a quarterback, I like to pass a lot and they like to pass a lot.

"I love football, and I love throwing the ball, so it's a package deal. The team revolves around you, and you get to help the team in the process."

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